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May 4, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This must be a first (Heat Street, 5/17).

A German trial court has ruled that a woman is not entitled to child support from a man with whom she had a four-night stand seven years ago. Although the Heat Street article doesn’t mention any of the European charter agreements, I suspect the Convention on Human Rights is the source of the ruling.

It seems the woman went to Halle in northern Germany and had a fling with a male escort who gave his name as Michael. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Now, seven years later, she decided she wants child support from the unknown father.

But how to locate him? She sued the hotel at which the two had their tryst demanding it disclose the name and addresses of every “Michael” staying there at the time. But a court in Munich dismissed her claim.

A judge said divulging the full names of the four Michaels in question would have exposed them all to suspicion, potentially harming their existing relationships.

In a ruling last week, the court’s judgment said: “The court finds that the right of the affected men to self-determination regarding their personal information and to protect their marriages and families outweighs the claim to maintenance payments. The affected men also have the right to have their private and intimate spheres respected, which protects them from having to expose sexual relationships.”

I suspect that one factor weighing on the judge’s ruling was that it is extremely unlikely that “Michael” is the true name of the man in question. Escorts don’t give their real names for what should be obvious reasons. So locating the four Michaels who’d stayed at the hotel would not only interfere with their privacy and marital relationships, but almost certainly fail to identify the actual father. Among everything else, the woman’s quest for child support is a lost cause. I suppose that’s what happens when one has pseudonymous sex without using contraceptives.

What’s of course most interesting about the outcome of this case is that, for the first time (as far as I know), a reason has been found to deny child support to a mother. And it’s worth noting that the court phrased its ruling entirely in terms of the mother’s right to receive money from the father. Not a word about the child’s right to support.

We’re invariably told that, contrary to much legislation and regulations regarding child support, the money is for the child and not the mother. That of course is only partly true. After all, if the money were for the child, support guidelines would be far lower than they are. The history of child support includes the fight by radical feminists to set support levels artificially high. (Remember Lenore Weitzman’s fabricated “evidence” about the decline in living standards of mothers post-divorce?) And economists like William Comanor have pointed out the many shaky assumptions underpinning the guidelines, all of which keep support levels far higher than they need to be.

So it’s interesting that a German court has both tacitly and explicitly admitted what’s true – that child support is at least as much Mom support as anyone else.

Yesterday’s post was about an Australian man who’d had unprotected sex and is now stuck with the bill for child support. I said I had little sympathy for him, because he had the opportunity to protect himself and didn’t take it. Well, the same holds true in the German woman’s case. If she didn’t want a child, she should have availed herself of any of the many, many ways women have of avoiding the consequences of conception. She could have taken the pill or used any of a vast array of other contraceptive devices, taken the morning after pill, had an abortion or placed the child for adoption. If Baby Moses laws are in effect in Germany, she could have used them as well.

But she did none of those things and now she’s stuck with a child she may not be able to support. Of course she may simply want the extra money.

Or, she may have wanted the child. In that case, her method of getting one left much to be desired. Sex with a man she knew would have made a lot more sense, particularly given her current predicament.

What I suspect happened was that she decided to go the “single mothers by choice” route and figured that (a) she’d have a good time, (b) with an attractive man who would then (c) be out of the picture. And presto, she’d realize her dream of single motherhood with no pesky dad to interfere and make life difficult. But things didn’t go quite as she expected. Single motherhood turned out to be harder than she thought and more expensive too. Ergo, she went looking for the man with whom, for seven years, she’d wanted no contact.

The facts of this case are a bit odd, but the core of it is very common. Mothers having children about whom the dad knows nothing are far from rare and their decision, at any time in the future, to go to the father for money is equally so. That the fathers have no idea they have a child is of no more legal consequence than the need of a child for its father throughout its life. Fathers don’t have the right to know about their kids; it’s up to the mothers’ completely unfettered discretion. And if Mom needs money, she can get it, any time she wishes. Again, the decision is hers and hers alone.

The German woman’s situation is unique. It’ll likely never recur. The Michaels protected by the court’s ruling are in all probability not the father. The entity she sued was a hotel. The father is unknown and obviously not a party to the lawsuit. In short, this case has essentially no precedential value.

Still, the idea that men’s right to self-determination and privacy can outweigh a mother’s claim for child support is enticing.

 

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#contraception, #childsupport, #righttoprivacy, #Germany

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